The council’s board of directors recently held a board meeting in Valdez.
On the agenda:
An overview of the standards for the escort tugs, barges, and other equipment that is required for oil spill prevention and response in Prince William Sound
A presentation about potential changes by the Alaska Regional Response Team to the Regional Stakeholder Committee, that allows stakeholders an opportunity to provide input in the event of an oil spill or pollution incident
A presentation on how oil dispersants may impact the health of wildlife
A presentation on recent changes to how dispersants are approved for use in Alaska
An update on council outreach activities for the past year
The name Prince William Sound causes ominous memories of my childhood in Kodiak to reverberate in my brain. For many years, the name was synonymous with dirty words such as “oil spill,” “toxins,” and “Exxon Valdez.”
I was 5 years old and living in Kodiak on March 24, 1989. My memory does not know a time before the spill; the Exxon Valdez oil spill has always been an event my community suffered from and is still rebuilding from.
During the summer of 1989, weeks after the spill, my family camped on neighboring Woody Island. When my younger sister and I returned from the tide pools, oil covered our clothes and hands. The oil did more than just soil clothing: it oiled our communities, ecosystems, lands, seas, and our lives. Kodiak fishermen and women had families to feed and bills to pay, but Exxon took even longer to respond effectively to the disaster in Kodiak than its initial delayed response to the spill in the Sound. I rode on my father’s shoulders during the protest march held in Kodiak shortly after the spill as a public demonstration against Exxon’s ineffective response to the disaster. My parents had saved for their dream house, and suddenly found themselves wondering if it would be just a dream. For me, these events were inseparably linked to the name Prince William Sound.
Students in the annual Copper River Stewardship Program studied the Exxon Valdez oil spill from a different perspective this year. They learned about the spill directly from some of the most affected citizens in the region.
The program, run by Kate Morse, program director for the Copper River Watershed Project, takes youth from the Copper River Basin on a hands-on exploration of their region. During a 10-day trip to various Copper River communities and Prince William Sound they learn about the ecology, culture, economy, and history of the region from individuals representing a wide range of organizations.
This year, Morse added a study of the Exxon Valdez disaster through oral history. Morse had the students listen to recordings from the Exxon Valdez Project Jukebox, the partnership between the council and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and read excerpts from “The Spill,” the council’s book. From her volunteer work on the council’s Information and Education Committee Morse was familiar with both projects, which documented and preserved stories from local citizens who experienced the Exxon Valdez spill from a variety of viewpoints.
Each student listened, watched, or read the story of someone sharing their first-hand experiences of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, then designed a flag to represent the person’s story based on their understanding and feelings related to the person’s experiences.
THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING APPLICATIONS FOR BOTH INTERNSHIP POSITIONS HAS PASSED. We are no longer taking applications. Thank you for your interest in the council.
The council is currently recruiting for two interns to complete two different projects this school year:
Hydrocarbon Research Intern: The intern will complete a project comparing the historic and present properties of Alaska North Slope crude oil.
Environmental Education Intern: Intern will be trained to present K-12 Oil Spill Curriculum lessons for a variety of ages. The intern will then coordinate and travel to at least five PWSRCAC communities to present lessons to youth.
Both of these internships are appropriate for undergraduate students. The Environmental Education Internship may also be appropriate for a graduate student.